There comes a time when you have to make a big decision. When you call out to your home voice assistant, will you start with saying “Hey, Alexa” or “OK Google”?
Amazon’s Alexa devices are deep into a heated battle with Google Home gadgets. They have comparable prices and skills and capabilities that go head-to-head. So how do you choose one? Let’s focus on their strengths and see what works for you.
Where Amazon Alexa shines
Choices, choices: Amazon got a head start in the voice-assistant wars by being the first to market with its Echo cylindrical speaker, which has since been joined by a whole array of like-minded gadgets ranging from the dainty Dot to the screen-equipped Echo Show (as well as a host of third-party devices). If you want to expand beyond just a smart speaker and dabble in video calling or fashion advice from the Echo Look, then Alexa is the assistant for you.
Smart-home controls: Amazon’s Alexa devices are compatible with a huge variety of smart home tools ranging from thermostats to light bulbs to smart plugs. This gives you voice control over turning lamps on and off, turning up the heat, or changing up the mood lighting. Google Home also works with quite a few smart home devices, but Alexa covers more ground with wider support from more manufacturers.
So many skills: Whether you want to play “Jeopardy!” or get the latest NBA news, Alexa has you covered with its thousands upon thousands of available skills. These add-ons act like apps that add functionality and features to your Alexa arsenal. Amazon’s huge library of skills lets you customize your voice-assistant experience in some ways that aren’t available to Google Home.
Where Google Home shines
All the answers: Google’s search prowess is a big advantage for Google Home when it comes to fielding your questions. The Google Assistant’s contextual awareness uses previous questions to help answer follow-up queries, which makes it feel more like you’re having a natural conversation rather than just talking at a machine. Alexa also does this to an extent, but Google Home has turned it into an art form.
Google products get along: You know you’re a Google addict if you have a Chromecast streaming device, organize your life through Google Calendar, check your email through Gmail, rock an Android phone, listen to Google Play Music, and turn to Google search for your every internet query. If this sounds like you, then a Google Home speaker will fit right into your existing lifestyle. The Chromecast voice-command support is especially fun.
Easy setup: Both Google Home and Amazon Alexa work in conjunction with apps that help you set up and control the devices, but Home makes the whole experience a little simpler. With Alexa, you have to choose and manage skills, which can get confusing as you keep adding more into the mix. Google Home keeps its functionality a little more straightforward, especially if you’re already familiar with the company’s Home app, which is the same one you use to manage Chromecast devices.
So which is better?
This is the big question, but the right answer isn’t always obvious. If you’re heavily invested in Amazon services like Prime and Music and have a house full of Alexa-compatible smart-home devices, then this is an easy one. You’ll do well with Alexa. The same holds true for Google services. If you rely on a Chromecast and get your tunes through Google Play Music, then you’ll appreciate the Google Home as your main digital assistant squeeze.
Not everyone has chosen a side yet in the Home versus Alexa battle and there are some good reasons to wait it out for a little while longer. Apple fans can still look forward to the release of the company’s high-end HomePod system in 2018, which promises to bring luxurious audio capabilities along with its voice-assistant prowess.
Priced at $349, the HomePod is much more expensive than Alexa or Google Home devices, so it may mainly find an audience among the sort of Apple users who don’t mind dropping $1,000 on an iPhone X. Does that sound like you? Then you might want to hold out for a HomePod.
You don’t have to be solely a Google Home or Alexa household. The two can coexist, though you have to train yourself to remember which one you’re talking to. For gadget fans, this might make sense. You can use your Home for answering questions and reserve your Alexa for controlling your smart home and listening to your Amazon Music subscription. This is entirely up to your personal preferences.
At this point, it’s not so much a question of which device is clearly superior, it’s about which one fits your life and needs the best. Are you a Google Home or an Amazon Alexa person? It’s up to you.
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